head due north

Summertime blues

Who doesn’t like the idea of cruising around in the summer sun? Getting out and about, topping up your tan, making the most of your holiday camping in your classic camper. It’s always cool to catch up with friends at weekend car shows or take trips out to the beach. Yep, summers are great for all of that – but is there more than that?

golden hour solar charging
Golden Hour solar charging

I may not have gotten the memo, but I’m pretty sure that campers are not limited to just summer use only. They can be used pretty much all year round as far as I’m aware. Recently I’ve been guilty of making excuses or letting stuff get in the way of going for a road trip since getting back from the amazing Hessisch Oldendorf show in Germany. Sadly I missed going to the Ben Pon show in the Netherlands this year and Summer kind of got cancelled due to work project commitments. It was time to make up for some missed opportunities.

Camper choice?

It might now be the end of the year, but the diary was clear. A perfect opportunity for a road trip, so where to go? I’d been using my Yellow ‘Tonka truck’ of a T4 for my Small Mission Hall project in the Outer Hebrides. Gotta say it has been brilliant. I totally get why people love them. Super practical, it eats up the miles all day long, powers up hills as if they didn’t exist, is very comfy for long haul drives plus you can cram a whole bunch of stuff in the back! Quite literally, what’s not to like? So when it comes to a winter road trip to the Outer Hebrides, it was a bit of a no-brainer as to which camper to take if I wanted to go back there again.

air-cooled camper meets water-cooled counterpart
air-cooled camper meets water-cooled counterpart

So yep, it’s the 1964 split-screen camper going to Scotland! I might be making a few sacrifices in terms of comfort for coolness, style for speed and fun over function, but there’s no point having it if I don’t use it!

Ready steady go

I’ve found over the years one thing air-cooled VWs don’t like is not being used. I reckon they take it as a bit of a personal affront thinking you don’t love them any more! Apart from packing some warm clothes and a raincoat for me, there are a few bits to do on the bus as well.

survivor paintwork washed and a top-up coat of Collinite 476 wax
survivor paintwork washed and a top-up coat of Collinite 476 wax

Check tyre pressures, check/top up the oil and fill up with petrol. It was also well overdue for a wash and a top-up coat of Collinite 476 wax as a bit of protection from the elements. Not that you’d really notice, but yes it has now been washed and waxed too!

No rush

The Splitty has a smaller fuel tank (40 litres) compared to the T4 (80 litres) so subsequently, it has a much shorter range before you need to fill up. No problem, I just decided to adjust my route to allow for this. It gives me the opportunity to visit different places on the journey up to Scotland. Nice to have a bit of variety on the drive.

road trip stopover at my sisters en-route
road trip stopover at my sisters en-route

There are no deadlines or timescales to fit in with so there was no rush on this road trip (just as well really!). I could choose to make my way up at my own pace. The added advantage was that I then got the chance to stay with my sister in the Midlands for a couple of days as I worked my way up from the south coast of England. Always nice to catch up with her. Not sure what her neighbours thought in the quiet country village when they saw my camper roll up and park on the drive – there goes the neighbourhood!

Moving on up

So my last night in a proper bed, no more power showers to wake up to for me then. Time to leave these creature comforts behind and head for destinations new. Unfortunately, the weather also decided to reflect and compound this sadness with a dramatic change in conditions from the sunshine south I had grown accustomed to.

Hastings to the Outer Hebrides
Hastings to the Outer Hebrides

Yes, it rains in the north! It indeed was grim, I’m definitely not in the sunny South anymore. All I can say is I’m so glad I did the Buttys Bits 12v wiper motor upgrade on the Splitty and of course, the obligatory use of Rain X on the windscreen.

Morecambe memories

My route north took me over the Pennines and through its foothills, rising to 1,221 feet (372 m) above sea level at the M62 summit. Apparently the highest motorway in England. This then ended up in my arriving at tonight’s destination of Morecambe. I’d not been here since I was a young child when we were visiting relatives in nearby Liverpool. All I could vaguely remember was that we had some good fish and chips there one night! That alone seemed a good enough reason to re-visit after all these years!

Fish an’ chips and a Morecambe sunset
Fish an’ chips and a Morecambe sunset

After the grey day of driving through the rain, it was great to find that my childhood memory didn’t deceive me. You really can get decent fish and chips in Morecambe! You can’t beat fish and chips by the sea as you watch the sun slowly set.

Seaside surprise

Always nice to wake up by the sea. I was up before the sun, so took the opportunity to go for a walk along the promenade from one end to the other before I moved on. Good to stretch your legs are a long drive. As I walked out along a jetty arm at the end of the walk I noticed an interesting-looking structure protruding from the side of the harbour slipway wall. It seemed vaguely familiar in some way. After closer inspection, it turned out to be a Time and Tide Bell like the one I had visited at Bosta Beach on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Time and Tide Bell art project at Bosta Beach, Great Bernera, Isle of Lewis
Time and Tide Bell art project at Bosta Beach, Great Bernera, Isle of Lewis

The ‘Time and Tide Bell Art Project’ was been designed by UK sculptor Marcus Vergette and Australian bell designer Neil McLachlan. There are various tidal bells that have been installed around the UK at different locations (check the website to see where they all are). Each bell rings around high tide; the bells provide a reminder that rising sea levels caused by climate change will make the pattern of their ringing change.

Morecambes Time and Tide Bell art installation
Morecambe Time and Tide Bell art installation

Great concept and initiative, it works on many different levels. I had wanted to see some of the other bell locations around the UK, and inadvertently, I had stumbled upon another by pure coincidence – happy days.

Scotland is in my sights…

Seafront camping at its finest. I wanted to make the most of the early golden sunrise as it rose to warm and greet the bus. Looks like there should be a bit less rain on today’s drive, although I can’t say that will be true as I get nearer to Scotland of course!

waking up to a golden Morecambe sunrise
waking up to a golden Morecambe sunrise

Time to grab some breakfast and supplies then fill up with fuel. I was hoping to do a bit of a longer drive today so that I could get to stop over somewhere in the Highlands of Scotland in the late afternoon/early evening all being well…

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